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Why we fear Friday afternoon

Historically, I had a bittersweet relationship with Friday afternoons.  You may, too.

Vividly I recall working in healthcare facilities, the apprehension I felt as the clock ticked towards 3 pm: The weekend was near, but so to was the time of day when work bombs often appear. 

You know the work bomb, often introduced with a late Friday afternoon call where the person on the other side of the line has issues, none of them good: A contractor kicked offsite because they violated an ILSM, a project shut down because the demo contractor tracked asbestos through hospital corridors, an OR slated to open Monday morning that failed a pressurization test, again.  

The Friday afternoon surprise was never a good way to head into the weekend.

When unexpected surprises occur on Friday afternoon, you often have a hastily called conference call. Nobody really wants to call, but you have to, it’s what you do. And depending upon the issues severity, additional calls may be scheduled for the weekend. Or perhaps there are no calls, but you are told to be glued to your device in the event additional issues arise.  

On these weekends you are off work, but you really aren’t. You feel apprehension as you scan your inbox, hoping there are no new emails. Has the issue abated, or did it worsen? What mess will Monday morning bring? Why do I do this to myself? These are all weekend questions you may ask yourself. 

So as l look forward to a fall weekend this Friday, I am reminded of past Friday afternoons. I am also reminded of a conversation I recently had with a Facilities Director. An accomplished leader, he’s tiring of the constant battle to, as he said, pull rabbits out of my hat. With his staff cut and budget reduced, his rabbits are disappearing. He has no more.   

He didn’t take vacation this summer, said there was too much going on. He hopes to take consecutive off days at Thanksgiving, but isn’t sure he can. And because of this, he was calling to ask about prospects in the interim director market. He said he probably had another year of direct employment left in him, but the demands are unending and unabating.  

His story is a warning. As rabbits disappear, so may the people who have traditionally found them. 

If you don’t respect your employees work/life balance, they will leave. If your employees don’t feel like they can take a day without feeling the pressure of work, they will leave. If your employees leave, you may not be far behind. 

How are your employees doing? Do you know?

Thank you,

Peter Martin 

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